Milk-Free Diet? Food and Ingredients to Avoid

If your child has a cow's milk allergy, a milk-free diet is a must. Here's how to identify hidden sources of milk in your family's favorite foods.

mom feeding baby blueberries on kitchen counter

When it comes to feeding your child, you naturally want to give them as many healthy foods as possible. However, if your child has a cow's milk allergy, you will need to eliminate all sources of milk.

The challenge? Milk-containing ingredients aren't only found in dairy foods.

They're sometimes added to non-dairy foods and drinks to help improve their taste and texture or to simply bolster nutrition. So milk ingredients could be hiding out in foods you'd never suspect like bread, snack bars and even pasta sauce.

Because even the tiniest bit of milk can trigger a reaction in an allergic child, finding foods without milk may seem difficult. But it doesn't have to be.

Become an Expert Label Reader

By learning to spot milk-containing ingredients in your family's favorite foods, you can keep your child safe. The key is to become an expert label reader by carefully scrutinizing the ingredient list of all foods you buy.

In the U.S., food packages must identify the eight major food allergens, which includes milk. Food labels provide this information in one of two different ways.

  • The first is by including the word "milk" in parentheses after each milk-containing ingredient. For example, if you're buying animal crackers that contain whey protein, you may see the words "whey protein" followed by the word "(milk)" in the ingredient list.

  • Alternatively, this information may be added at the very end of the ingredient list via a general disclosure that reads, "contains milk." Either way, by scouring the ingredient list, you can identify if the food is appropriate for your child.

Check Labels Every Time

Just keep in mind that food manufacturers change their ingredients from time to time. To ensure that you're feeding your child a milk-free diet you'll want to read the ingredient list every time you go food shopping in case new milk-containing ingredients have been added. Check the handy list below to get started.

Did you find this content helpful?

Milk ingredients are often used in bread, snack bars and pasta sauce.